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Wind Energy Basics

  • Wind Power is a reality today. Over 5,200 megawatts of wind generation -- enough to power the equivalent of 1.5 million American households annually -- was installed in the United States in 2008.
  • Nearly 48 billion kWh of electricity will be generated by wind power in the U.S. in 2009 (AWEA estimates) -- enough electricity for the equivalent of 4.5 million average American homes.
  • A 1-MW turbine generates enough electricity for 250 to 300 homes.
  • A single 1-MW turbine displaces 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, each year (equivalent to planting a square mile of forest), based on the current average U.S. fuel mix.
  • To generate the same amount of electricity as a single 1-MW turbine using average U.S. utility fuel mix would mean emissions of 9 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4 tons of nitrogen oxide each year.
  • To generate the same amount of electricity as a single 1-MW turbine for 20 years would require 23 million tons of coal or 92,000 barrels of oil.
  • To generate the same amount of electricity as today's U.S. wind turbine fleet (16,818 MW) would require burning 23 million tons of coal or 75 million barrels of oil each year.
  • 100,000 MW of wind energy will reduce CO2 production by nearly 150 million tons annually.
  • U.S. wind energy potential: Estimated at 10,777 billion KWh annually -- more than twice the electricity generated in the U.S. today.
  • Globally, in 2007, over 20,000 MW of new wind capacity was added. Installed capacity worldwide at the end of 2006 was over 94,000 MW.

 

           

                             

                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading states in current wind power capacity...

  State

Existing

(MW)

UnderConstruction

(MW)

Rank (Existing)
  Texas
10,135
492
1
  Iowa
3,675
619
2
  California
3,599
802
3
  Minnesota
2,158
206
4
  Illinois
2,436
611
5
  Washington

2,357

343

6

  Oregon
2,305
1,046
7
  Oklahoma
1,482
769
8
  North Dakota
1,424
45
9
  Colorado
1,299
501

10

 

  • Wind is "inflation-proof" -- once a wind plant is built, the cost of energy is known, and is not affected by fuel market price volatility.
  • U.S. winds could generate more electricity in 15 years than all of Saudi Arabia's oil, without being depleted.
  • Using more wind energy can save water in the arid western U.S. To generate the same amount of electricity as a single 1-MW wind turbine using either fossil fuels or nuclear power requires, on average, withdrawing roughly 60 million gallons of water from streams or rivers, of which nearly 1 million gallons is lost to evaporation.
  • There is no mining or drilling required for fuel.
  • There is no toxic waste.
  • If a wind plant is damaged, there is no secondary threat to the public (such as the release of radioactivity, explosions, or the breaching of a dam).
  • A wind turbine a quarter of a mile away is no louder than a kitchen refrigerator.

 

        Windpower Outlook 2012   (an up to date assessment of the wind industry -- from AWEA)

  

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